Matt Merrell; Win-Tron Racing Dish Out Another Podium Performance
Topics: Matt Merrell, Menards 200
Win-Tron Racing/Knight Motorsports Management
May 16, 2011
TOLEDO, Ohio (May 16, 2011) - - While Matt Merrell and his Win-Tron Racing team had high hopes for a win in Sunday’s Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care, the team was able to nail their third top-five finish of the year and fourth consecutive top-10 in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
Making his return to Toledo Speedway for the first time since 2009, the Portland, Texas native was hoping to rekindle his prior Toledo success and further inch himself and his Lakeville, Minnesota-based team up in the championship standings.
Mother Nature played havoc with the track conditions early Saturday forcing adjustments in the day’s schedule which now included two practices and the cancellation of qualifying. During the two practice sessions, the No. 32 Champion Brands Dodge Charger landed the 10th fastest times.
Because of the removal of time trials from the day’s activities, the team would line up fifth based on the team’s owner’s points from the 2010 ARCA Racing Series season.
For the second consecutive weekend, rain would drench the race track on race day forcing ARCA Racing Series officials to spend a majority of the morning drying the Northern Ohio race track. The command to start engines was given shortly before 2:00 p.m. with the drivers circling the track under yellow and green flag conditions together to officially begin the fourth race of the season.
Almost immediately, Merrell found himself gunning for the lead. Tucked behind the bumper of nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel, the former USARacing Pro Cup Series driver made several attempts to pass the No. 44 Ford Fusion but a tight condition on the No. 32 Champion Brands Dodge Charger would allow Kimmel to have the upper-hand coming off turns two and four.
Steadily holding in the runner-up spot leading to the half-way mark, challenges from behind that included Chad McCumbee and Grant Enfinger forced Merrell to race harder to protect his position and even saw several laps of positions swaps.
When the caution flag waived approaching lap 110, crew chief Mike Chaffee opted to bring his protégé down pit road for tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Detained just outside the top-10 with a variety of pit stop strategies by his competitors, Merrell would have to cautiously but aggressively maneuver his way back to the front.
Typical short track beating and banging would find Merrell using his bumper to cleverly negotiate back to the front. Closing in on the finish and in the treks of Frank Kimmel, Ty Dillon and Grant Enfinger, Merrell would find himself in contention for his first career win but when Kimmel and Dillon made contact on lap 189; the yellow flag waived which setup for a single-file restart.
Another quick caution following the restart would daunt Merrell’s opportunity to make a move on Dillon or Enfinger but the driver would find himself having one more opportunity with four laps remaining. Despite a gallant effort, Merrell would have to settle for third, improving on his previous Toledo Speedway best finish of fifth in 2009.
“Close but no cigar again,” said Merrell. “We had a good car today. We made some changes from practice to the race that paid off. We were a little tight but still had a fast No. 32 Champion Brands Dodge Charger. I just cannot thank these Win-Tron Racing guys enough for the opportunity to drive. Each week they give me the best of the best and I’m just the lucky one that is able to wheel this thing.”
Nate Thiesse, co-owner of Win-Tron Racing continued to express his confidence in Merrell. “We’ve been able to race Matt in almost every type of track in ARCA and he’s excelled. He did a great job today, we just ran out of time. Who knows if we had another 25 laps or so, we could have been the ones celebrating in victory lane. Nonetheless, the Champion Brands racing team had another strong finish and we’ll look towards another one in New Jersey.”
With their superb performance on Sunday afternoon, Merrell jumped to second in the ARCA Racing Series championship standings 95 points behind leader Ty Dillon and five markers ahead of nine-time champion Frank Kimmel in third.
Currently, the Win-Tron Racing team holds the reins with Kimmel Racing as the only two teams to finish inside the top-10 in all four races thus far in 2011.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the lone stop at a road course. The ModSpace 150 is set for next Sunday, May 22 at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) in Millville, New Jersey. Merrell will make his inaugural road course debut in the fifth race of the season. Win-Tron Racing won the Tire Kingdom 150 presented by ModSpace at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway, the first of two road courses last February with driver Justin Marks.
Merrell made his 17th career start at Toledo in the ARCA Racing Series presented Menards this weekend. In those 17 outings, Merrell has eight top-fives including runner-up finishes of second at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (August) in 2009 and 10 top-10s. His best start position for Win-Tron Racing occurred at the tricky triangle of Pocono (Pa.) Raceway where he qualified his No. 32 CollinsHope.org Dodge Charger second in June of 2009.
Further information including driver opportunities with Win-Tron Racing is available by visiting win-tronracing.com or contacting Nate Thiesse at 952.469.1839.
TEAM COMMUNICATIONS CONTACT:
NAME: Chris Knight, Knight Motorsports Management
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